Rotten Fish

I guess this will demonstrate why both players and management should never read places like this…

Another game, another late goal conceded, and another sense of getting away with it a bit. At least we’ve found our new scapegoat, as STTA will explain…

Nothing quite as painful as conceding a goal in injury time whether it’s the win or the draw that’s slipped away.

Yes our collective Saturday evenings aren’t quite what they would have been, but truth be told Tom Elliot 2 – 2 Fleetwood feels very much like a point gained.

I didn’t make Millwall (where I read we were similarly poor) so the opening half was the worst 45 minutes I’ve witnessed in some time.

Disorganized, lazy, clueless…. and that was just Tyrone Barnett.

We can get away with one of our full backs missing but with both of them out we really struggled. It wasn’t only Barry’s defending we missed but more noticeably his leadership – I sit in the front row of the John Green stand and you could hear a pin drop when we were defending in that opening half.

Also unfortunate to have Uwe Rosler on the opposition bench as we fielded a makeshift team with 3 of our first choice back 4 on the sidelines.

His side got the ball out wide at every opportunity and with full backs overlapping they put more dangerous balls into our box in 45 minutes than most teams do all game.

It was some achievement to go in only 1 down and according to reports from those in earshot of the dressing room Mr. Ardley was as impressed with that first half as the 4,000 Wombles in attendance.

Off came Seth Owens who looked a little out his depth. To be fair to the lad he didn’t get the defensive support Barcham provides (with Poleon and Barnett rotating on the left) and Fleetwood doubled up on him to take advantage of the gaps.

Also withdrawn was Tyrone Barnett. I’m starting to think the problems with him are terminal but more of that later.

Sean Kelly slotted in at left back but more importantly Tom Elliott took up his position leading the line.

Instantly you could see the difference. Balls played up to Barnett had come straight back, half the time he didn’t even mount a challenge. Elliot won pretty much everything sent in his direction.

Tom’s first major contribution came on 47 minutes. We won a corner and Tom’s downward header was turned into the net by Dom Poleon. 1-1.

His second major contribution won us a penalty. 2-1 Dons.

We should have put the game to bed with some chances to make it 3-1. Two of the best fell to Dom, the first he missed his kick the second he blazed wide when clean through on the Fleetwood goal.

Then in injury time came the sucker punch. We’ve improved our set piece defending recently but that was 2 goals conceded from set plays yesterday, most disappointing was the 92nd minute equalizer went in unchallenged.

So we slipped away quietly content with a point rather than feeling joyously guilty in nicking all 3. To be honest we should have been dead and buried at half-time so despite a much-improved 2nd half that still has to go down as a point gained.

Plus points: Second half fightback, Tom Elliot.

Minus points: The first half, a reality check with our squad depth, set-piece defending.

The referee’s a…: useless twat who got most of the decisions wrong. Gave us a pen so I’ll excuse the other 89 minutes incompetence.

Them: no 34 was outstanding but other than that pretty ordinary. Well organized as you’d expect under Rosler but we made them look much better than they were. If we’re at full strength I’d expect us to get points in the return fixture.

Point to ponder: last time I remember Barry not playing was the FGR cup game, we were similarly awful that day. There have been a few question marks with Barry this season but I’m not sure we have another obvious captain when the time comes.

Robbo is as committed a player as you’ll find but he’s not half the captain Bazzer is and will probably beat him into retirement.

Maybe now is a good time to appoint a new vice-captain with half an eye on the future. I’d give the job to John Meades.

Anything else? yes let’s get back to Tyrone. That was a dreadful performance yesterday afternoon. So what’s the problem?

I hear he’s not the sharpest tool in the box (y’know Sammy Moore sort of bloke) so is it that he doesn’t understand what’s being asked of him?

Mind you how hard can it be to understand instructions like – press hard, challenge for the ball when it comes in your direction, break sweat?

Or is he just not very good? Four months into the season and I can’t see him contributing anything other than the occasional header when the ball drops on his head 6 yards out (see Charlton away).

I also read yesterday evening that his family is in the Midlands, does that explain why he looks like his head is elsewhere? Whatever it is he hasn’t settled with us.

I’ve been told by a senior figure at the club that he was high on our target list in the Summer and I’ll be surprised when he comes good. Based on what I’ve seen so far that’s wishful thinking… along with a couple of hundred grand in wasted wages.

Where next: yes starting the car in the dark for Curzon Ashton. Maybe a good time to have a week off from league football and if we’re back to full strength I expect us to cruise through the cup game with a bit to spare.

With our first XI back and a 3rd round tie to look forward to I also think we’ll press on in the league. We were useless for much of today (in fact most of this week) and still we don’t get beat.

That’s got to be a good for our prospects this season… and for a certain game coming up on the 10th of next month.

I’m glad Franchise won yesterday, as it means their inevitable uptick in form won’t start with us…

These sorts of games always ratchets up the annoyance factor by some margin, but it does seem that patience is wearing very thin with Mr T. Barnett right now.

Put it this way – when people are saying that they wished we’d kept Akinfenwa instead of signing him, you know he’s entered into Ryan Clarke territory.

Not that he helps himself. One of our management team called him out in public in the first half, and when your half time replacement does more in two minutes…

Something is wrong with him, and it’s going to take a lot of figuring out why. Is his brain fucked for some reason? If so, get that sports psychologist onto him, and quick.

I don’t doubt he’s got the potential to be a good player for us, but unfortunately “potential” is such a meaningless word. Especially when you’ve shown precious little of it.

Does he simply not want to be here? If that’s the case, then we’ve got a big problem – especially if you believe some of the rumours of his wages.

For one of the very few times in the AFCW era, we may have a problem that every other FL club encounters, namely the expensive underperforming talent.

We’ve paid relatively good money for the likes of Main, Kedwell, Akinfenwa and I assume Midson in the past, and they’ve all proven good value for money.

But Barnett has become our new Banjo “Byron” Harrison, and unfortunately may prove harder to get rid of.

And the trouble is, we need him to come good. We’re relying far too much on Elliott, and we were missing Taylor for whatever reason yesterday.

Indeed, Elliott himself was getting brickbats this time last year, often for the same reasons. Yet he knuckled down, and is now probably our best striker.

Barnett can do the same, and we might almost have to threaten him to do likewise. Yes, he scored against Charlton but then went back to what he’s been like since he got here.

Christ, he was even shite at Newport.

I don’t know how one would “threaten” him, but here’s what we do know : we’ve now got five games left before the transfer window opens again.

He’s basically got that amount of time to prove he wants to be here. Because if he doesn’t, I get the feeling we might have to do something in just over four weeks time.

I know he was a target, but like the aforementioned Clarke, sometimes it goes wrong. And we were very quick to release him when it was beyond breaking point.

Replacing a striker in January is always the hardest thing transfer wise, but Barnett might attract attention from the local glue factory a L2 side, especially one nearer to his home.

After all, there’s always some manager who thinks a player can do a job, especially if they’re desperate.

Ideally of course, we’d like Barnett to buck his fucking ideas up and start giving us selection headaches in a good way. It doesn’t even need to be next Sunday, he can start on the 10th…

Other than that, I’m glad we’ve got out of this slog of fixtures relatively unscathed. The next two fixtures are vitally important in very different ways, and we’ll need to focus on both of them.

Cup upsets do happen, and if we did come a cropper this time next week, it’ll be embarrassing and disappointing, but we’ll move on pretty quickly.

And we do have something to fight for this campaign, even if it’s not relegation.

The 10th is what it is, though it’s only two clusterfucks of fixtures in a season of about 46 of them. It won’t define our campaign, nor does it really define AFCW these days, but you’ll be glad when it’s over.

Visiting Franchise is the equivalent of visiting a relative you wish was dead. You have to do it because you’re contractually obliged to, but you appreciate it more when you don’t.

It’s not really worth getting so het up about these days, it’s part of the deal of being a L1 side this season, and with luck they’ll find themselves freefalling to non-league before long.

Enough of them. We’ve gone through two games this past six days unbeaten, where both could have been losses. Even with the lack of depth in the squad in certain areas, that’s all you’ll ever want.

Although if people are now starting to get annoyed at missing fifth spot because of last minute equalisers…

9 thoughts to “Rotten Fish”

  1. Franchise are your dead uncle’s annoying, illegitimate son: sired overseas somewhere under dubious circumstances, who sells fertiliser futures for a minor establishment in the City, and whom your spinster aunt insists has to be invited to family events and included as “one of our own”.
    I have no idea about Barnett.

  2. Other than his age I’m intrigued as to why people don’t think Robbo wouldn’t be a good skipper? No disrespect to baz, like you say he was missed greatly. I’m hoping with Barnett that it’s a case of deja vu with Elliott when people used to slag him and now they have a dedicated shrine. Let’s hope we are a fickle bunch :p

  3. The first rule of the “Designated Scape Goat”. They must be one “Designated Scape Goat”. Rule Two. There must be one “Designated Scape Goat”. This Francomb, Hatton, Barnett shit has been going on for years, it’s only people feeling the need to divert attention from their own failings in life. Why not get a life. Or get a psychologist.

  4. Barnett is 31 now. He might have passed his peak as a striker. Think it’s interesting how Elliott & Poleon both came through at Leeds but are doing well for us now. They needed the right club where they get well supported to really emerge & push on as they’ve both done this season

    It will be an interesting January, where will Ardley strengthen. Also if he thinks Barnett won’t improve will he move him on & get another striker. It’s funny he’s getting criticised but it’s because the other 3 strikers have been so good. Maybe he’ll come good eventually too

  5. Yeah I agree, I think we will look back and cringe at how people talk about Barnett. Hopefully…

  6. I’ll continue to criticise the players that I don’t think are performing and compliment those that do, on a week by week basis. If others choose to term this scapegoating it’s up to them. I was highly critical of Andy Barcham earlier in the season, and for that matter Lyle Taylor – they’ve both improved no end. In similar fashion I’ll be delighted if Barnett comes good, fingers crossed our management team can work the same magic that they applied to Tom Elliot.

  7. First half a ball bounced away into space from TB.. he genuinely looked at it and thought ‘Should I go for that or not?’ In the end he did, won the header (just) and set up a reasonable attack. The question has to be asked ‘Why did he ever have to even think that (or look like he was thinking that). Like many I agree we have to give him time and he’s not playing week in week out but then apart from Tom who is in the front line? They’ve all had chances and not doing anything against Newport – though we didn’t play that well there allegedly – sort of summed up his position at present. As the ‘baby’ of the group Dom has proven he’s worth his place; could Oakley do the 4th striker role?

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